Superior Carnage Annual #1: Home Coming
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artists: Kim Jacinto & Mike Henderson (Pages 21-30)
Colorist: Jay Ramos
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Rafa Garres
Editors: Devin Lewis & Sama Amanat & Stephen Wacker
Editor-In-Chief: Axel Alonso
Cletus: After receiving a fatal wound in prison, Cletus Kasady is brought to a low level facility by request of a Doctor Jenner, who has been psychologically profiling Cletus Kasady since his miraculous recovery at the end of Superior Carnage #5. For those who didn’t read the actual mini-series, it’s been established that the symbiote can heal broken minds and a comatose Kasady makes a full recovery. As Cletus lies dying in the hospital, he can feel the symbiote dying miles away. Doctor Jenner reveals that he’s responsible for the fatal stabbing of Kasady in prison, so he could get Kasady released into his care and use him to draw the symbiote out. Revealing his desire to become the new Carnage, Jenner kills Cletus Kasady with his own hand.
I’m not the biggest fan of Cullen Bunn’s work (I actually can’t think of a single thing he’s done that I’ve enjoyed) but he was firing on all cylinders here. I’ve never found Cletus Kasady to have the most consistent of personalities, but I really like the snarky take Bunn gave him here. Kasady simply does not give a damn about anyone or anything and he seems to be using Jenner, just as much as Jenner is using him. Jenner’s character is perfectly slimy and works well against Kasady, as they both seem to size each other up in their interactions with one another and disapprove of what they see. The plot twist with Jenner wanting the symbiote wasn’t surprising, but I was caught off guard when he ended up killing Kassidy.
As for the art, I think Kim Jacinto does an excellent job with the first twenty pages of this issue. His art style reminds me a lot of Rafael Albuquerque (of American Vampire fame), with its shady figures and sharp scratches on both characters and backgrounds. This art suits a gritty story like the one Bunn tells her perfectly.
Symbiote: After the capture of the symbiote at the end of Superior Carnage #5, SpOck ends up mutilating the symbiote, neutralizing it with drugs and sending it to medical institutes all over the city. This leaves the original symbiote weakened and when its link to Kasady is severed, it dies. However, a sympathetic scientist named Carla bonds with one of the symbiote fragments and it feeds on her life, regaining its strength. It discards her after draining her dry and continues to feed on people until it reaches the facility where Kasady died.
So, two for two in the death department, as both the original symbiote and it’s host die before the book’s third act. I got to give Bunn credit, I didn’t think he would go that far this issue and it kept me heavily invested as I was reading. My biggest problem with the script is it’s hard to buy that Otto would share the symbiote with other scientists, since he’s really not a team player since taking over Peter Parker’s body. It’s a means to an end though and I didn’t have that big of an issue with it. The character of Carla was a good one, if forgettable, especially when she got to cut loose with the symbiote on her abusive husband. Aside from Jenner and Carla, there are no other really notable new characters here and well… none of them make it out of this alive, nobody really does.
Kim Jacinto continues to draw this part of the story as well and he really delivers the pain the symbiote both experiences and delivers. It’s Jay Ramos’ colors that really grabbed me in the symbiote scenes though and the faded look really made this feel like a continuation of the Superior Carnage mini-series (which he also colored so that’s not surprising.) Still, the art team was in sync on this issue and it made for a pretty book.
Carnage: Doctor Jenner confronts the symbiote after it discovers Kasady’s dead body. He says that he will be a new, worthier host for it, but the symbiote kills him and bonds with Kasady anyways. The two merge into one being that calls itself Carnage and then goes on a killing spree to celebrate their reunion.
I’m actually really happy with how this played out, because now it’s practically impossible to separate Kasady and Carnage from one another. Now they are one being codependent on each other for survival. And apparently this is a sex change for Carnage, since Kasady refers to the original symbiote as a she, but it is now clearly a male thanks to bonding with Kasady’s anatomy (or perhaps it’s the first multi-gender villain in Marvel comics? Loki might have taken that first though.)
Kim Jacinto hands off the final pages with Carnage to Mike Henderson, but you would be hard pressed to tell. There’s a scene where Carnage kills the prisoner who stabbed Kasady and he mentions that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, which I found ironic since Henderson does such a good job of imitating Jacinto’s art style. The only big noticeable difference is Henderson’s faces are smoother and don’t convey quite as much emotion as Jacinto’s. Still, really good work from Henderson here.
Verdict: Cletus Kasady is dead. The symbiote is dead. Long live Carnage. I’m quite happy with the new status quo for Carnage and I look forward to the upcoming mini-series that will pit the Savage Symbiote against the Merc with a Mouth.
- Art (style and consistency)
- Consistent tone
- Carnage’s birth through the death of Cletus Kasady
- Bit of a stretch for Otto to share the smybiote